The most powerful health benefits of parsley include controlling cancer, managing diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, along with helping prevent osteoporosis. Furthermore, it acts as a pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties. It also provides relief from gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea, while helping strengthen the immune system.
Parsley can be found throughout the year on the market. It is also a highly nutritious plant and has ample vitamins and antioxidants, which can greatly improve our health.
What is Parsley?
Parsley (Petroselinum hortense and Petroselinum crispum) is an herb that originated in the Mediterranean region of southern Italy, Algeria, and Tunisia. It is used as an herb, a green leafy vegetable, and as a spice in its fresh and dried form. Actually, both the leaf and the root are used in Mediterranean and European cuisines. It is consumed in many different ways, including garnishing, salads, stocks, and sandwiches. The leaf is further divided into two more types: curly leaf and flat leaf.
Parsley, a predominantly tropical plant, needs moisture and ample sunlight to grow. The root form is a new addition, which only began to be cultivated about 300 years ago, and was first grown in Hamburg, Germany. Nowadays, root parsley is steadily becoming more popular.
The nutrients found in parsley include vitamin A, K, C, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, choline, folates, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and copper. It is also a very good source of volatile compounds such as myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. Its leaves contain energy, carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
Let’s take a look at the top health benefits of parsley, in detail, below:
Rich Source of Antioxidants
Parsley contains several flavonoid antioxidants including luteolin, apigenin, lycopene, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene. They protect the cells from free radical damage, which is responsible for many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular problems, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and eye disorders.
Promotes Kidney Cleanse
Parsley, rich in antioxidants and vitamins, helps cleanse the kidneys naturally. For many centuries now, it has been used as a diuretic that helps treat kidney stones, gallbladder stones, bladder infections, and urinary tract infections.
A kidney-cleanse can be done, under medical supervision, through the intake of the herb in dishes, parsley tea, parsley juiced with other vegetables, or parsley lemon water. The roots of the herb are also very useful in counteracting kidney stones.
Treats Bloating (Edema)
Also, the juice is an excellent natural remedy as over-the-counter chemical diuretics can flush out potassium, causing harm to the body. The herb, with its rich potassium content, helps you avoid undesirable side effects of a mineral imbalance.
Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb, which is low in calories. It helps boost metabolism, remove excess water from the body, and cleanse the kidneys and livers. This, in turn, keeps the body’s functioning at its optimal level and helps in weight loss.
Parsley has traditionally been used in the Mediterranean region for toothaches, bruises, insect bites, and rough skin. According to studies, this medicinal herb displays anti-inflammatory and anti-hepatotoxicity properties. The anti-inflammatory properties reduce internal inflammations, while the anti-hepatotoxic properties help cleanse the liver.
Parsley, abundant in vitamin C and antioxidants, has potent collagen producing and skin lightening properties. The herb helps reduce the appearance of blemishes and scars. It also has the ability to balance oil production and hence, is an excellent remedy for acne.
Few herbs are as cleansing as parsley, which is packed with vitamins and potent flavonoids. It can detox the body from heavy metals as well as other toxins. Adding its roots to boiling water and drinking it on a daily basis is also known to be an effective general cleanser for the body. Also, parsley cilantro juice is widely used a detoxification drink.
Parsley contains a flavonoid called myricetin, which can lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. A research study conducted showed evidence that diabetic rats that were given parsley actually showed a decrease in their blood sugar levels over a period of a month. Traditionally, it was used as a medicine for diabetes in Turkey.
Including parsley in your diet helps stimulate digestion because of its enzyme and fiber content. Enzymes help in better nutrient absorption and improve the digestion of proteins and fats in the body. The herb also helps cleanse the gastrointestinal tract and maintain overall health.
Controls Rheumatoid Arthritis
Parsley has also been particularly effective against rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin C and beta-carotene found in the herb possess anti-inflammatory properties that help in controlling arthritis and reducing arthritic pain. Consuming parsley juice or tea regularly is also believed to speed up the process of uric acid removal, which has been linked to symptoms of arthritis.
Prevents & Treats Cancer
Apigenin, a flavone in parsley, prevents the progression of cancer and halts tumor growth. According to research published in Oncotarget, apigenin inhibited an enzyme, which caused the multiplication of cancer cells. The herb was found especially helpful in preventing prostate, colorectal, and colon cancer. Both, fresh and dried parsley, have high levels of apigenin.
Also, parsley oil extract contains a compound called myristicin, which is a phenylpropane. A preliminary investigation into the effects of myristicin on laboratory rats revealed that it has anti-carcinogenic properties as it counteracts free radicals in the body.
Parsley, with its high levels of vitamins B-complex, C, and K, and calcium can help boost bone health. It helps prevent osteoporosis and maintain optimal bone health even as we age. The B vitamins also help reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the body, which can weaken bones.
Parsley helps relieve flatulence and colic, due to its carminative action. The root, the herb, as well as the essential oil, can boost bile production and gastric juices. This gives a much-needed boost to the digestion process and cures gas, constipation, bloating, indigestion, and nausea. The essential oil can also be applied to the stomach area for relief from cramps.
Treats Acid Reflux (GERD)
Parsley has been used as a natural remedy for acid reflux since it settles the stomach and aids in digestion.
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in parsley are helpful for strengthening immunity and treating fever. Vitamins such as vitamin C, A, K, folate, and niacin, each act on different aspects of the immune system. Vitamin A acts directly on lymphocytes or white blood cells, thereby increasing their effect. The chlorophyll contained in it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well. Studies have also shown that the herb contains antioxidant properties and antibacterial properties, making it an ideal source for various home remedies.
Improves Brain Health
Apigenin, a potent flavone in parsley, improves neuron formation and enhances brain functions such as memory and learning. This plant compound is being researched for its ability to treat neurodegenerative diseases like schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. The herbal extract is known to increase cognitive performance as well as improve alertness and memory.
Antibacterial & Antifungal Properties
Parsley has enzymes that are antibacterial and antifungal in nature. It has an inhibitory effect against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause boils, skin infections, cellulitis, and severe conditions like pneumonia and meningitis.
Parsley has high levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which heals bruises and reduces pain. For a home-made remedy for bruises, you can crush the fresh leaves, spread it over the afflicted area, and secure the salve with a bandage. Also, lactating women use the herbal leaves as a poultice to reduce breast tenderness.
The herb also helps reduce joint pain, fatigue, and has the ability to soften stiff muscles, because of the presence of a potent antioxidant, quercetin. It is especially good for people suffering from arthritis and joint problems. You can also use parsley juice to cure toothaches and earaches.
The high concentration of iron in parsley helps treat anemia, which is caused by iron deficiency. Vitamin C in the herb aids in better absorption of iron. People who have a hard time taking iron supplements are often told to have its juice or tea.
Treats Bad Breath
Chewing a few sprigs of parsley helps fight bad breath or halitosis. The herb’s fresh flavor and high chlorophyll content help freshen the breath temporarily. This is probably why it has been used, since ancient times, as a natural mouth freshener.
Parsley is abundant in flavone antioxidants, which can reduce oxidative stress, thus boosting cardiovascular health. This herb also contains high levels of vitamin B and folic acid that prevents the thickening of artery walls. Also, potassium in the herb lowers blood pressure, which helps prevent heart diseases and strokes.
Parsley helps improve the hormonal balance in women, enhances their libido, and boosts the secretion of the estrogen hormone. Intake of the herb helps treat hormonal disorders like premenstrual syndrome, menopause, or delayed menstruation cycle. Furthermore, parsley tea helps reduce menstrual cramps and discomfort.
Parsley is abundant in vitamin A, and antioxidants like carotenoid as well as beta-carotene, that helps boost eye health. It helps protect the retina from damage and prevents macular degeneration as well as cataracts. The nutrients in the herb also help reduce eye puffiness and dark circles.
The paste made from powdered seeds of parsley has long been used as a natural remedy for hair lice, dandruff, and scalp irritation. It also helps strengthen weak hair, promote healthy hair growth, and stops hair fall. The nutrients in this powerful herb can help increase keratin and collagen production, which protects the hair from free radical damage. Also, a parsley rinse can help retain hair color since it has high levels of copper.
How to Use Parsley?
- Garnish: Fresh parsley is a fragile and mild leaf that can be added to any dish as a garnish, such as pasta.
- Soups & salads: It can be added to soups and salads, such as tomato soups and sauces, before serving for added flavor and aroma.
- Parsley juice: It can be made into a juice or added to your favorite fruit or vegetable juices.
Fresh and dried parsley can both be used for adding flavor to various food preparations.
Consumption of the herb, especially in large quantities, may have side effects and disadvantages. Some of them include the following:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Avoid excess intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Excess intake may induce uterine contractions during pregnancy.
- Oxalate over-consumption: It has a high quantity of oxalates, which can be particularly problematic for people who suffer from kidney stones or gout.
- Rash and other allergies: It may make the skin extra sensitive to the sun and lead to a rash.
Parsley has been cultivated by man for more than 2,000 years and was highly regarded in Greek culture since it was used in various ceremonies. The Romans also used it in many ways. Pliny the Elder, a 1st century AD historian, wrote that it was consumed by people from all walks of life. At first, it was used only as a medicinal plant, but later on, it was consumed as a food. There are many myths and fables associated with the origin and growth of this plant in many Mediterranean and European cultures. The Greeks believed that it had sprung up from the blood of the fallen Greek hero Archemorus. Thus, Greeks started associating it with death and destruction. But in the Middle Ages, parsley was included in folklore medicines and it slowly gained popularity. This is possibly how the image of parsley as a health herb developed.